12. The Defeat of the Curse I
God is a fighter and the ethos of the victorious warrior is written all through His word. God's purpose for Satan is that we might defeat him. God's purpose for the curse is that we might cast it off. God does not form Christ inside of us by speaking a word, only. In the unsearchable wisdom of God, Christ in us needs an enemy to defeat and a restraint to cast off. Inside of this incredible crucible are the wondrous ingredients of affliction, devotion, pain, and endurance.
The Defeat of the Curse I
“. . . and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Revelation 12:5
This line describes the normal Christian life; a life we are only now beginning to understand and live in. Genesis 3 describes “the fall” of man; Revelation 12 describes his return.
The fall of man did not happen in a moment. It began when the serpent opened his mouth to speak; it did not reach its nadir until the moment Cain killed his brother, Abel. I don’t know that there is a lower point than that.
We cannot understand the revelation of Jesus Christ, the ‘apokalupsis’ – the Apocalypse, without understanding the curse. The curse is found in Genesis 3:14-24. It is exactly what Paul was referring to in Romans 8 when he said that “the creation was subjected to futility.”
Inside this curse are SEVEN things that came upon the human race. All of the curse was broken in the cross of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Christian church has continued to live under and submit to the curse. God has a purpose for the curse; it turns us to Christ. But we must understand God’s full purpose for it.
The curse is no more a part of us than a chrysalis is part of a butterfly. The chrysalis is a holding place until such time as the butterfly is ready to cast it off. Then, the purpose of the chrysalis is to be cast off, for in the casting off of that outer shell, the life inside the butterfly flows in strength to every part of its being.
God is a fighter and the ethos of the victorious warrior is written all through His word. God’s purpose for Satan is that we might defeat him. God’s purpose for the curse is that we might cast it off. God does not form Christ inside of us by speaking a word, only. In the unsearchable wisdom of God, Christ in us needs an enemy to defeat and a restraint to cast off. Inside of this incredible crucible are the wondrous ingredients of affliction, devotion, pain, and endurance.
Here are the seven parts of the curse.
Verse 14: “On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.”
Lucifer was created the highest of all angels. He was larger in size and glory than all the stars. The earth was nothing more than a speck of dust to him. From the beginning he despised the very idea that God had created him to serve this lowly worm called “man.” Now he is bound to the earth, he cannot leave it. His only sustenance, his food, his energy, must come from one source alone, the misery and suffering of man. God gave human flesh to Satan for his food, the dust of the earth. So long as we live in a consciousness of separation from God, we are food for fallen angels. That’s just the way it is. And we escape that curse by one means alone, by living fully in the declaration of our complete union with Christ.
The flesh and Satan’s feeding on the flesh are like the tar baby in the “Brer Rabbit” story. You see something wrong with your human nature, so you knock it about, get it under foot, and what do you discover? Now, you are stuck to it even more. The more you try to suppress the flesh, the more you struggle to get it into “obedience” to God, the more stuck to it you become and the bigger deal it is.
Stop it. The cross is sufficient for us. We turn our backs on “the flesh” and give ourselves utterly to the only life we now know, the life of Christ inside of us.
The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) The dragon deceives the whole world. (Revelation 12:9) There is not one point of knowledge or understanding in this world that is not bogus. All of mankind lives in the Matrix. We do not help anyone by trying to “fix” the world. Certainly, we see things that are false. But the moment you fix one thing that is false, it becomes something else just as false. The world cannot be anything else.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . .” Revelation 12:10-11
Revelation Chapter 12 is the removal of the curse from off this earth. Every point of the curse in Genesis Chapter 3 is counteracted by the revelation of Jesus Christ in Revelation Chapter 12.
The casting down of the accuser is the breaking of the serpent’s hold over this world and the ending of his ability to feed upon mankind. It is the entrance of the full revelation of the kingdom of God into this earth.
Verse 15: “ . . . and you shall bruise His heel.”
Satan bruises the heel of the Seed of the woman, which is Christ: Christ as He walked the earth 2000 years ago, and Christ as He reveals Himself in us.
The heel is the part of the body that carries the weight of the body upon the earth. Under the curse, Satan has the authority to wound the Redeemer, to wound that part of Christ’s mature body that walks upon the earth.
“. . . And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born.” Revelation 12:4
This wounding is part of God’s purpose. In whatever way we have ever been wounded, yes, it is by the barbs of Satan, but we are utterly in God’s hand and He with us works all things together for good. This is the determination of God.
Verse 16: “In pain you shall bring forth children.”
Yes, there is the physical individual element of this that every woman endures when faced with childbirth. As I watched my tender wife bear our first son, I knew no man could ever hold a candle to the strength of a woman.
But that is an outward result of the curse; we are much more concerned with its larger purpose and its casting off.
“Then being with child she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” Revelation 12:2
When my first son was born, there were several women in the same hospital wing giving birth that day. Ours came last. We heard horrifying screams and curses. “Make it stop!” Then, when all the ladies had their babies in hand, they asked my wife what was wrong with her. She had not screamed.
My wife entered the birthing room as prepared as a new mother could be. She did not want pain killers. I was there, mostly useless, but a strength to her. She also had a close friend there with her. They had been working together for months, practicing breathing, practicing letting go, practicing pain.
Those who were unprepared rejected the pain of the birth. My wife, though she certainly did not welcome it, understood its purpose and knew how to yield herself to it. To let it do its work and to bring herself into the flow of its rhythm. To yield, to release, to submit. And to focus on her friend and on the breathing.
This is the hour we are in. It is Jesus who holds our hand and says, “Put your eyes utterly upon Me and trust Me. Breathe when I say, relax when I say, and push with all your might when I say, “Push.’” And so we must. What is about to hit this world is beyond any of our abilities to prepare or cope. Everything will not be “all right.” Being in “the secret place of the most High” is where we live; but staying calm while 10,000 people drop dead around you is no simple thing. (Psalm 91).
Verse 16: “. . .your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
This is not a blessing, it is not God’s ‘order,’ it is a curse.
“In Christ . . . there is neither male nor female . . . for you are all one in Christ.” Galatians 3:26-29
Yes, outwardly, women have been shamefully mistreated by men for these 6,000 years. Those who walk in union with Jesus have no part with such a thing, no matter what poorly translated verses they come across, it’s not in them.
But that is not what this element of the curse is talking about. Notice that there is no husband in Revelation 12. Do you understand what that means, bride of Christ? What happened to your husband? He was put to death upon the cross of Jesus Christ. You have no more tie to him than any long-forgotten corpse. Name a person who died 2000 years ago and tell me what power their broken, unknown skeleton has over you or me. So it is with that old husband, Adam. He is long millennia dead and forgotten. We do not carry him on our backs.
And yet, so very sadly, for the last 2000 years, the woman, the church, the bride of Christ has lived as if she had that old dead husband chained to her back.
When Paul said in Romans 7, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” he was referring to an ancient Greek practice of punishment. The Greeks would take the corpse of a murdered victim and chain that corpse to the back of the murderer. The murderer was then free to go, but he could not escape the rotting, horrid, vulture-pecked corpse chained to his back.
Paul was voicing the mentality, the thinking of the “carnal mind,” of the one who sees himself as a “self ” walking separately from God. Paul thought he dismissed that way of thinking, both when he said, “I thank God through Christ Jesus my Lord,” and when he made the emphatic statement that the carnal mind, the thinking that the Adamic nature, our old husband, Adam, the fallen human nature, is chained to our back, that that whole way of thinking is DEATH! Paul thought he was setting the believer in Christ free from that mentality.
But that is not what worked out in Christian theology. No, the thinking that we who are married to Jesus Christ, are still also married to Adam, that we still also have a fallen human nature that we cart around, that we are responsible for, that stinks, yes, but we can never get rid of it, not in this life. That whole way of thinking that Paul called “DEATH,” became central to Christian theology, in Catholicism, in Protestantism, and in much of evangelical Christianity today.
Dear Christian people make placards of our pastor with devil’s horns on his head and stand with loudspeakers declaring that we will all burn in hell. More than once in the last few years, my children and I have walked through that gauntlet to enter the worship service. And these people who do belong to Jesus, think they are sent to do this because my pastor does not teach that Adam is chained to our backs. They honestly and sincerely believe that anyone who does not teach that Adam is chained to our backs is not teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I will speak more later of Revelation 12:5 “And her child was caught up unto God and to His throne,” but I will say this much of this, most precious of all verses in the Bible. I am filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3), God flows out of me like a rushing flowing river (John 7), He surrounds me like a mighty fortress wall. I walk always in Him and He in me. It is not possible for me to “go” somewhere else in the universe, in heaven or anywhere else, and find God more than what I walk in right now.
In all of His holiness, there is no more holy place than where I stand right now. In all of His heavenly glory, there is no more glorious place than the place I live in right now. In all of His almighty Power, there is no greater power than what works in me right now.
These words that I speak are not strange. They are as true of you as they are of me. I am describing the normal Christian life. If I have to “go” somewhere to find God, then God is not here, and if God is not here, then God is not.
God, open our eyes, that we might “see” that which IS and has always been. “The expectation of God.” These words are, for me right now, the very breath of God. Let God breathe them into you as well.
The expectation of God. In all things, in all ways, at all times.
In both Genesis 3 and Romans 8, God says that the curse is “for our sakes.” “For our sakes” has a double purpose. First, inside the curse we learn the affliction and sorrow that is very much a part of our Father, learned no other way; and second, in casting off the curse, we come to know Christ as our life.
But we cannot lift a finger against the curse in the guise of Adam, a self, separate from God, trying to do what God says. That very mentality keeps us bound under the curse. To believe that we carry Adam’s rotting corpse – a fallen human nature – unable to be free from it, is a curse indeed.
It is only as we embrace our union with Christ, He in us and we in Him, that we are an empty vessel, made clean by the blood, separated from Adam by the cross, the reflection of Christ’s person in this world. To know Him, in intimacy, in togetherness, in a shared life. But God is a fighter, and He in us casts off the curse as the illusion and the non-thing that it is.
Here is the problem. The curse is our comfort blanket, warm, fuzzy, and so familiar. We imagine it to be almost ‘non-human’ to live without the curse.
The strongest defenders of the curse are fellow believers in Jesus. Whole sermons are preached on how wonderful and good death is. In many Christian funerals, death is exalted as most precious, second only to Jesus Himself. It is never viewed as the most vicious enemy we have, more anti-Christ than Satan or sin.
Death is over-rated.
Like Goliath, shouting against the armies of God who hide behind their tents, convinced no one could face such an enemy – death will kill you! Yet a boy presumes against the giant. God is with him. He does not pray, or cry, “Oh God, please, if it be Your will, speak to me.” No. He knows God is with him and he with God. That is enough for David. He also knows this giant blasphemes God and the armies of Israel shame Him. Goliath is already dead in David’s eyes.
But who are David’s opponents? His brothers. The ones who ‘know’ that the present illusion is the only reality.
Death is over-rated.
“ . . . the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10.
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 2 Corinthians 15:53-54
The New Testament answer to the curse of Genesis 3 is found in Romans 8:18-23 and Revelation chapter 12. These are the two “heresy” passages of the New Testament. Yet, if they are not central to our understanding of the gospel, then we do not understand the gospel. If Romans 8:19 and Revelation 12:5 are not at the center and heart of our definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then what we have is not the gospel, but only a shadow. That doesn’t bother Jesus, He is our Savior, and He brings us all the way through to Himself.
But somewhere along the line, those two verses become our central focus and we realize that the sacrifice of Jesus has nothing to do with going to heaven and everything to do with redeeming this earth and all creation.
“Cursed is the ground for your sake . . .” Genesis 3:17
God is favor. To be in God is to be in favor. To be surrounded by God is to be surrounded by favor. Adam lived in favor. He knew no shadow of anything else. Everything he put his hand to prospered, as Solomon says of the godly in Psalms 1.
Favor vanished with the curse. Now, everything Adam tried to do failed. He put out his hand to receive and a thorn poked him. He worked hard to grow a bit of garden, like I do, and weeds grew and bugs ate the weeds!
I want to get right at something here. We imagine that because we ‘trust in Jesus for where we will spend eternity’ we have ‘faith.’ Yet all of my Christian life, I have expected the curse.
Faith is what we expect, not what we hope for. We ‘hope’ God will bless us; we expect the curse. And in so much Christian thinking, including the thinking I lived in for many years, to expect the curse is to ‘be godly’ and to expect blessing is to be manipulating and using God for our selfish benefit.
Things going wrong, not working out, seems to be normal. Our whole mind, the whole construction of our thinking processes, works out to the curse. We expect it; and we speak what we expect.
God does leave the curse upon the way of thinking I lived in for most of my Christian life – that I was a self, separate from Christ, and that I had to “hear” what God says and “do” it.
But to live in union with Christ – He is my life, I have no other life – is to live in the expectation of God. To expect God is to expect favor. To expect favor in Christ is to expect God. Our mind is conditioned to expect not favor. Therefore, we also expect not God.
There is never an absence of faith in any human being. Every human being is filled with faith. We are made to expect. And we receive what we expect. Most Christians expect the curse. That’s why they receive it.
To expect not favor is to expect not God. We receive fully exactly what we expect in every direction of our lives – health, finances, relationships, work – all the way through. To expect God in heaven only is to expect not God.
The curse is there for our sakes, not to live in it, but to wake up one day and realize that if my theology has left me in the curse, maybe my theology is really screwed up. The curse is there so that we know to get out of it and into the tree of life, not to embrace the curse, defend it, and seek to live under it.
“. . . who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.”Ephesians 1:3
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Revelation 12 deals with this part of the curse. Verse 16: “But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”
I do not understand what this means. I know it is not a physical splitting open of the ground. It is referring directly to the final moments of the curse upon the earth, when the earth itself turns from the dragon to the woman and sacrifices itself for her sake. It’s like one of the major themes of fairy tales. How the curse is lifted in stories is a reflection of the truth. God speaks through stories.
The curse sits like computer viruses in our brains. We think little thought-scenarios, and we speak out of those thoughts. If we will just stop and look at those things, we realize that our thoughts and the words we speak from those thoughts are nothing other than the expectation of the curse.
As I was waking up last Sunday morning, I had a dream. In that dream I could see so clearly. This thing is so simple. All we have to do is change the way we think. To think as God thinks and to see as God sees. It is so simple. God expects Himself; He never expects anything else.
When I awoke, it did not seem so simple, but I know that in my dream, I saw reality, and in my waking thoughts, I am yet wrapped in illusions and darkness.
Central to victory over the curse is to change the way we think.